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Posted by TheFallen on April 04, 2003

In Reply to: "Mug" as fool, sucker posted by R. Berg on April 04, 2003

: : : Any idea as to why "mug" means "fool", such as in "mug's game", and also as to what "mug" refers to in "mug up"?

: : : Thanks in advance for any information.

: : MUG - .2a. Orig. Underground & Carnival, a dupe, fool; sucker. 1857 "Ducange Anglicus" "Vulgar Tongue' 13: Mug, n. Dupe. "Who is the 'mug.'?." From "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1 H-O" by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994.

: : The same reference has several entries for "mug up":

: : Mug-up, noun. -- a snack or drink of coffee, a short respite for such a snack.
: : Mug up -- to study hard.
: : Mug up -- to drink one's fill of coffee.

: Eric Partridge says "mug" in the sense of a fool, an easy dupe, probably comes from the idea "something into which one can pour anything" ("A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English," 1961).

Interesting. Over here in the UK, to "mug up" exclusively means to study hard at something. Looking at Patridge's explanation for "mug" meaning fool - "something into which one can pour anything" - the same explanation probably applies to "mug up". You're filling your head with knowledge.

Oh, on a fractionally related point, I finally saw the CSI episode on British TV this week with "georges and stiffs" in it. Regular posters will recall the show's researchers asking a question here about these two terms.